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May 26, 2014 1:35 pm

Senator Bob Menendez Outlines Positions on Israel, Iran

avatar by Adam Fishman

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Sen. Robert Menendez. Credit: U.S. Senate.

Nearly 200 people came together at the Park Avenue Synagogue last Sunday night to support the American Friends of Likud (AFL) at its Annual Gala Awards dinner honoring Senator Robert Menendez (NJ-D) and Israeli Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s office Ofir Akunis. Deputy Minister Akunis received AFL’s Award for Excellence in Government and Senator Menendez was presented with the Menachem Begin Award for Political Courage.

The event’s guest list also featured a number of dignitaries including Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Israeli Consul General Ambassador Ido Aharoni and Deputy Consul General Shlomi Kofman, as well as former Brazilian Minister, Ambassador Luiz Filipe de Seixas Correa, and former Argentinian Minister Marcos Aguinis.

AFL’s program included video messages from Israeli Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon extolling the virtues of AFL’s mission to promote Zionist education and a special congratulatory video message to the honorees from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

After Akunis’ introduction by AFL President’s Club member Bobbie Goldstein, the Deputy Minister thanked AFL with a strong message of an eternal and unified Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and an Israeli government that would never be pushed to additional concessions in a peace process when a clear view of reality indicates that in the current state of affairs, Israel truly has no partner on which it can rely.

But the highlight of the night came after Malcolm Hoenlein introduced Senator Menendez and presented him with the Menachem Begin Award for Political Courage. With additional perspective as the Chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Menendez’s impassioned remarks on the unflinching and rock-solid alliance between the United States and Israel received multiple standing ovations.

Senator Menendez reiterated that Israel’s right to self-determination in its ancient homeland derives not from the Holocaust as has been put forth by others, but from the clear, historical and moral right of the Jewish people to live and thrive in the Jewish State of Israel. His sentiment is unmistakable that “several thousands of years of history lead to an undeniable conclusion, the reestablishment of the State of Israel in modern times is a political reality with roots going back to the time of Abraham and Sarah and historical texts and artifacts.”

In very precise language, Senator Menendez outlined four basic points relating to where he stands.

“First, as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I reject any movements which call for a boycott or divestment from Israel and any comment that suggests Israel runs the risk of becoming an apartheid state. Those are wrong, they are flawed, and they are unconscionable to this Chairman.”

“Second, President Abbas … must choose between a future that envisions a two state solution with Israel as a Jewish state having peace and security and a Palestinian state with prosperity for the Palestinian people or a marriage with a terrorist organization that will never achieve that dream…”

“Third, and the most important maybe pressing issue of our time. As we move toward the possibility of a deal with Iran, a deal that I frankly am very nervous about … I believe we need the right deal, not any deal for the sake of having a deal. …Our clear intention must be to prevent Iran from ever reaching that capability and it is because of that reason that I introduced the third round of sanctions, the Menendez-Kirk legislation and I still believe that it is necessary to assure our goal of making sure that Iran never has the nuclear weapon capability that we risk.”

Finally, in his fourth point, Senator Menendez thanked AFL for the Menachem Begin Award for Political Courage, and said, “there can be no denying the courage of the Jewish people, and as I look into my own soul, I know that there can be no denying the Jewish people their legitimate right to live in peace and security in a homeland for which they have had a connection for thousands and thousands of years and for so long as I am the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that is the view that we will lead that committee from.”

Adam Fishman is an attorney, former Chicago Area Director for AIPAC, and the Executive Director of American Friends of Likud.

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